Saturday, July 31, 2010


I’ve been standing on this here soap box for as long as I’ve been sharing my private thoughts with the readers of central Connecticut and the far reaches of cyberspace, and I’m not about to get off now.

I don’t care what Commissioner Bud Selig says, Major League Baseball is broken.

Oh, it’s not broken as far as the ballgame itself is concerned. The players are more talented than ever. It’s the violation of the general meaning behind the idea of fair competition as a baseline for the evolution of sports in our society.

MLB is set up just perfectly for the fat cats in the big cities to feed off the oblivious fans in America’s smaller cities.

Selig stands behind the lectern with that stern look about him, casting off expressions like the boy who got caught raiding the cookie jar when the question is asked.

Why, Mr. Selig, is the system set up so pennant contenders can gut the less fortunate so those poor bottom-feeders can save a few dollars at the expense of the fan?

Then the fan takes a double screwing when those dear tickets that he’s been holding since March for an ostensibly competitive Astros-Giants game becomes a travesty. The Astros, minus Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, come in with their headliners replaced by minor leaguers.

Does the fan get a rebate for not getting what he bargained for? Hardly.

Mr. Selig delights the short-sighted metropolitan hucksters when he speaks of parity. Parity? Then how come it’s been nearly 20 years since the playoffs transpired without the Yankees or Red Sox involved?

It’s not just about winning a World Series. It’s about competing over the grueling 162-game schedule and coming out of it in contention as September rolls around. Where does that take you parity argument, Mr. Commissioner?

The Commissioner’s argument is a ruse to intelligent baseball fans everywhere. He’s smart enough to know that but everything revolves around money and Selig isn’t about to utter a word that may cause his cash cow to deliver sour milk.

Ratings are highest when the Yankees and Red Sox are in the postseason. Fans in New York and New England have come to regard winning as a birthright. If you disagree, please tell me when the last time either has been in the second division. When has either faced the ugliness of a last-place season? When has either last had a season with more defeats than victories?

Here are some answers that would make Selig dance faster than if he were dodging bullets.
The Red Sox have been in the playoffs in six of the last seven years. The last time they had a losing record was 1997. The last time they finished at the bottom of the division was 1992.

The Yankees have been postseason participants for 14 of the last 15 years. Their last season of total discontent was 1992 and they haven’t had that basement feeling since 1990.

No wonder Yankee fans walk the streets as if their bodily discharges smell like the air at the New York Botanical Gardens. The system protects the Yankees against losing when they can dip into their endless cash supply on July 30 and fortify their Hall of Fame-bound cast with former All-Stars from other teams.

It’s never going to stop. I’m not gullible enough to think that Selig and his band of robber barons would have the fortitude to fight for the oppressed.

Think of why sports became popular.

Baseball was nothing more than a child’s game, played fairly I might add, before the Industrial Revolution created a society that suddenly had more leisure time.

Manhattan bank employee Alexander Cartwright and his cronies, given that their working days ended in mid-afternoon, had energy to expel and many hours of daylight to expel it. They went over to Hoboken, N.J., drank the adult beverages of their choice, and tightened a child’s game into a competitive drama that others enjoyed watching.

Others enjoyed watching. I’ll bet they’d pay to satisfy that urge. The rest is history, and that’s where man’s two greatest emotions took hold – greed and greed.

There were those who tried to tilt the playing field in the 19th century but common sense equated to balance. The game wasn’t firmly entrenched enough that the unbalanced history we witness today wouldn’t have turned spectators off forever.

But as the years passed and baseball became a link between generations and touted as the revered National Pastime, something purely American, professional baseball became an attraction for the masses.

Not any more. The prices at Yankee and Red Sox games are surely not for the masses but serve the elite. A few hundred bucks for a baseball ticket may not deter Corporate America or politicians but it sure isn’t in the budget for most of us. Everyman’s game has become the stomping grounds of the upper class.

Interesting how the NBA’s New York Knicks, no matter how much salesmanship Mayor Michael Bloomberg employed on the soiled pages of Gotham’s tabloids, couldn’t sway Lebron James into saving their decrepit team. No Chris Bosh nor Dwyane Wade either.

Sorry, Knicks, unless you make some wise personnel decisions (are you really bringing Isiah Thomas back?), you’re destined to be whipping boys in the Eastern Division for a spell, probably into Spike Lee’s old age.

When the New York Football Giants make bad decisions, they lose. They can’t get to a Thanksgiving trading deadline, pick the bones of the less fortunate and leave the carcass of the Detroit Lions for the buzzards. I guess it’s because the NFL doesn’t have to stoop to such nonsense in order to captivate the sports-loving public.

So what do the NFL and NBS do that MLB does not? To Selig and those who revel in lopsided races, it’s a bad word so I’ll whisper it.

Salary Cap.

What, the union won’t allow it? Well baseball won’t be the first thing that unions ruined.

So feed on this. No matter how the Yankees fare, it doesn’t impress me. If I gave you $50,000 for Christmas shopping and I had $1,000, who would get the better presents? In other words, the crown is there for the taking for this team of All-Stars, and if they don’t win it going away, they deserve the criticism that New Yorkers enjoy dishing out when things don’t go their way.

I’ll reserve my credit for a Padres club enlightened with young pitching that seems destined to hold on to the NL West, the vastly improved Reds, the surprising Braves and a Twins club powered by former Rock Cats. I’ll even doff my cap to the Red Sox, who have battled tremendous adversity to stay on the edge of the AL East race.

May one of them reap the gold while Yankee fans can join their Mets counterparts as they look under every rock in Central Park for someone to blame.

One thing’s for sure, they shouldn’t blame Selig. He’s reduced the field quite efficiently for them.

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